Back in February of 2018, I purchased a radio kit from HFSignals.com called the uBitx or micro Bitx, to affordably get myself on the HF bands, and help some people while I’m at it. I posted about this neat little rig and the story behind its inception when I started my blog in April, eager to get together with my brother and solder together the pieces. Well, we finally did it.
My brother Josh came by one afternoon in November, and we worked through deciphering the instructions and schematics on the HF Signals website. Despite both of us having something at work blow up on us that morning, our bored kids driving my wife up the wall, and my preparation for covering the Newcomer’s Net on VHF that night, it all came together.
I applaud their thorough documentation and photographs, and the many, many people out there who openly discuss how the work with and modify this radio kit. One challenge was that the schematic called for a switch at the power input, but the instructions did not. We think that maybe the schematic was for an older version of the radio. The volume knob has a switch piggybacked to it; you click the wheel to turn it on, and then turn further to turn up the volume. So, we soldered the power leed to that switch. I can supply photos and/or a video if someone encounters this situation and needs help, just shoot me a message or post a comment.
Another challenge was that I didn’t really have a power supply handy, and the big 30 amp 13.8 volt power supply I power my commercial VHF and UHF radios with would probably burn something out on this kit without fuses I don’t have on hand. We researched a bit and found this article which states the consensus is that 15 volts is the acceptable max the radio can handle. I found an old laptop power supply that fit the bill, we cut off the end of the cable to wire on the one that came with and fits the radio – and was even more confused. The way the manufacturer wired up their plug seemed coaxial… it didn’t have two wires, it had a wire and shielding. The shielding was one of the poles, and we couldn’t determine which part of the connector to solder the shielding to. Thankfully, there are many YouTube videos showing how to repair or replace a power supply cable and connectors.
We brought it into my bedroom ham shack and powered it up, with a few minutes to spare before the net I was to host. I didn’t have an HF antenna up, yet, so we connected it to the Ed Fong DBJ-1 VHF and UHF antenna, to see what we could hear. That’s I discovered the third challenge… we wired the channel knob backwards. Counter-clockwise is up, clockwise is down. After the net, I tuned around and picked up some Shortwave Radio, but wasn’t really picking up any amateur radio. I’m surprised I got that much from the wrong kind of antenna, but here I was listening to a Christian radio channel loud and clear, then Radio Havana and a Chinese language learning station.